White collar crime… October 11, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
There was a snippet in the SBP about white collar crime and recent data from the CSO.
Almost nine out of every ten white-collar crime crimes committed in Ireland in recent years failed to result in a conviction in the courts, new figures reveal.
Despite a dramatic increase in the number of cases of fraud and financial wrongdoing reported to the authorities, new data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that the conviction rate has halved over the past decade.
While there were 7,820 recorded crimes committed between 2008 and 2010, the figures show that the authorities secured just 828 convictions in the same period.
In 2010 alone, the latest year for which figures are available, fewer than one in four cases of white-collar crime were solved by gardaí. The conviction rate fell to just 6.6 per cent in the same year.
In a way this doesn’t surprise me at all.
David Alexander, an international expert on fraud, told this newspaper last week that fraud and corporate crime were now a €4 billion industry in Ireland.
Alexander, a partner with the London financial firm Smith Williamson, said corporate convictions were hard to secure and required extensive resources.
“If you are a criminal, it is the classic crime to commit – the chances of getting caught are slim, the chances of getting convicted are even slimmer and, if you are convicted, the penalties are very low,” he said.
And it’s not just recorded crimes. Let me give you an example. I know of a company where during the boom an employee in a position of trust resigned after a period of some years with the operation. It was only subsequently that it was realised this individual had over an extended period siphoned off large quantities of cash, a low six figure sum I believe – the company had a number of retail outlets and this apparently was where much of the damage occurred, though there were other areas affected.
Nothing much was ever done, though it was an open secret. The Gardai were called in but no one was charged and the company didn’t pursue it. The reason for that? The sense was that this would impact negatively on the perception of the company amongst its competitors. Within the company nothing was done. Those who were line managers took no hit for this. No one was dismissed for negligence – though negligence there was and it reached quite a way up the chain of command.
Now one can say that the company was insane to act in this way, and so it was, but one could see a certain raw logic to its approach. It was profitable, the money would soon enough be replaced, the brand would not be impacted upon negatively, better by far to cover it all up and hope for the best. And within those limited constraints it probably worked.
Typical? Atypical? Hard to tell, but from talking to others in that particular business it was by no means the first time that a company involved in it had acted in that way, and presumably was by no means the last.
And as for a shoplifter caught in one of the retail outlets of that company I refer to above, well, as David Alexander, quoted above, notes:
“It takes a long time to investigate. Some cases take five years to get through the system, compared with five weeks for a normal robbery. This means white-collar crime is expensive to investigate in terms of resources.”
One doesn’t have to for one second condone ‘normal robbery’ – and having known people who were forced to hand over cash from tills at the point of a knife I know how traumatic that can be, to see how oddly structured much of this is.